Welcome to the Digital Cave
“The new media are not bridges between man and nature — they are nature…The new media are not ways of relating us to the old world; they are the real world and they reshape what remains of the old world at will.” — Marshall McLuhan
Communication changes constantly. Communication hasn’t changed since cavemen first drew on walls. Both of these statements are true. The evolution of how we talk, share, market, and sell to our fellow humans will be different tomorrow than it is today. But the basic principles will remain the same. Everybody wants to be a part of the community, to be heard, and to share thoughts, feelings and ideas with friends, family, and even strangers. Everybody wants to connect. Since the invention of the printing press to the viral spread of the Internet, this evolution of the way we connect with others, sending and receiving information has changed everything, from the form of governments to the makeup of markets. The printing press accelerated religious reformation. Newspapers stoked the French Revolution. Radio incited rock ’n’ roll. TV took us to the moon and back. Now the Internet has encircled the world with a web of constant connection.
The first known cave art is a #hashtag dating back to Neanderthals more than 39,000 years ago
Other than being electronic and universally accessible, a blog scroll is almost exactly the same thing as a papyrus scroll. Emoji are the new hieroglyphics. Social media and digital video are the latest tools in our cave painting boxes, giving every person on earth the ability to share with every other person on earth — with more powerful means of distribution and emotional engagement than ever before. This book will hopefully help you understand the phenomenon and harness the change to the benefit of yourself, your company, your brand, and your community. History now moves at gigabit speeds.
What is Social Media?
You can read a million blog posts, magazine articles, business development books, Tweets, Facebook posts, or LinkedIn whitepapers about the power of social media. This book assumes you know the basics, and are most likely one of the 1.7 billion people worldwide that log into Facebook at least once a day. You might even post Hefe filtered sunset photos on Instagram, Tweet links for interesting news stories, and Pin amazing new recipes, home design tips, or vacation ideas. This book deals with how we use that power to build brands, change conversations, sell products, and make a difference.
The essence of all social media is the ability for individual users to create and share their own content — bypassing the filters of corporate media, government bureaucracy, and physical proximity. Now you can keep up with old friends from high school, ex significant others, and random strangers effortlessly. You can know whatever they choose to share — adorable cat snaps, chic outfit photos, political ramblings, important news, random trivia, sports scores, neighborhood gossip, favorite restaurants, and their own culinary creativity. This is exactly what media philosopher Marshall McLuhan meant when he said, “…the new electronic independence recreates the world in the image of a global village.”
The Internet erases distance between places.
Social media erases distance between people.
Social media has taken the place of small talk in contemporary society. When you run into friends and acquaintances, you already know what their kids are up to. How cute their dog is. What they had for lunch. Or how they feel about the last political debate or football game. Now you can talk about the real issues, or you can pose for a selfie.
Luke Sullivan, one of the greatest advertising copywriters ever and author of “Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This,” best succinctly described the different social media platforms in a Tweet: “Facebook is a backyard BBQ. Twitter is a cocktail party. And Linked in is the office water cooler.” I’d guess he might go on to say that Instagram is an endless slideshow, and Snapchat, may very well be those brief interactions stolen between periods by the hallway lockers, fleeting and oh so sweet for youth.
For brands, social media gives you the opportunity to engage with today’s consumers where they increasingly live, and spend more and more of their time — online and on their mobile phones. Social media has become a part of our everyday environment. It’s the same thing as an outdoor board on the side of the road on your way home, or commercial break in your favorite program. Unique to social media, is that this engagement can happen anywhere or at anytime, delivered by a screen that fits right in their pocket. Engagement can create lasting relationships. Consumers can shop for better prices while they’re even inside stores, and you can persuade them with positive reviews and relevant videos right up until the point of sale as they wait in line for checkout — looking over their Facebook feed to kill time.